50 Chapter Fifty / The Police Station

Jay branch sat on a hard metal chair in a well air conditioned police station telling the important parts of his story to the young mustached officer in a tight fitting uniform that looked as if it was about to explode from the pressure of his girth that was pushing aggressively against the bulletproof vest under his shirt as his daughter Grace sat a desk away giving her story to a female officer. He focused on the basics, he had received a call and was told not to call the cops or the kidnapper would kill his daughter, he borrowed money from his boss and took it from Graces college fund, he had fallen asleep and wrecked his car and then bought the Bronco from some kids on Craigslist. There was no mention of Sonny the drug dealer or the convenience store robbery in Clinton, neither the cops nor Grace ever needed to know about that. Luckily the bottle of Maker’s Mark had disappeared from the truck somewhere in the journey across the desert so he didn’t even have to explain that. He did his best to give the police as much information as possible but was distracted from his story and often lost his train of thought as he tried to hear what Grace was telling the female cop, trying to make sure that the scumbag had not touched his daughter and feeling the rise of anger in his soul that he had not somehow found a way to put a bullet in his head when he was on his property.
Grace told the tale of how she woke up in the back of his car with a bag over the top half of her body. How he had switched back and forth between a childlike character that would be nice to her and bring her ice cream and even left the basement door unlocked and the evil psychopath that had detailed the first time he had kidnapped and killed a girl, how he had cut off her ear and then tortured her for a week before she died and how he had planned on doing the same to Grace. Jay cringed as she told about the outer room in the basement, the shoes on the floor, the old shop table and of the cardboard cutout of a beer girl that had hair and skin stapled too it.
When they had finished giving their statements, the officers asked if they could stay here at the station for a little while longer and if they could stay in Arizona for a few days as well. Grace glazed over as her father agreed to the officer’s requests and then she asked.
“Suze dad what about Suze?” she felt horrible for only now thinking of her friend and of her aunt Betty, had the kidnapper hurt them.
“Suze is fine but you’d probably better call her and explain what happened, she called asking where you were and I told her that you had gotten in trouble and I was bailing you out.”
“Oh my God! Are you serious?” Grace’s face flushed. She was now wearing some odd dress that one of the older female cops had in their locker and it made her embarrassment even more adorable.
“I couldn’t say anything to anyone so that was the blankest thing I could think of.”
“Give me your phone.” She demanded.
“It’s dead.” Grace looked around for a second and asked a random officer if she could use a phone. The officer pointed to a small room with a door that had a window in it and said the obligatory “Dial nine to get out.”
Grace called Suze and began to unfold the story for her over the phone while Jay gathered lunch from a vending machine. He hadn’t slept in over a day and he felt like he might throw up, he hoped a Mountain Dew and Snickers would even him out. He tossed a bag of M&Ms at Grace and they fell to the floor as Grace just stared into space and then exclaimed.
“Is there a TV in this place?”
An officer pointed to a weird little waiting room down the hall and Grace headed straight to it with Jay following close behind. Inside the waiting room there was already a small crowd gathered around and staring up at a twenty inch flat panel that was mounted high on the wall. The banner across the bottom of the screen read “Gruesome discovery in Topock” with a video of an overhead shot of the junk yard as the female news reporter gave information about the story.
“The call came into 911 this afternoon from a teenaged girl from Atlanta, Georgia claiming that she was being chased by the Ransom Murderer. When the police arrived at the house where she had been held, what they found confirmed her report.” What appeared to be a license picture of the kidnapper appeared on the screen with his name underneath. “Police are looking for John William Grant in connection to the kidnappings and murders. If you spot him, please do not approach him as he is believed to be armed and very dangerous.”
Jay and Grace stood shell-shocked at the news report, having the full weight of the situation simultaneously crashing into both of them as the entire crowd in the room did a slow turn and stared at the two.“What the fuck are you looking at?” Jay said and followed that with “Savages”
He grabbed Grace’s hand and made his way for the door finding the officer he had been dealing with and asked if there was somewhere they could hide while they waited. The officer took them to an office in the back of the station and told them they could stay there while they made sure that they had everything. Grace immediately picked up the phone and called Suze back and they began chattering aimlessly about the events of the last 24 hours and Jay hoped that she was really doing as well as she appeared. Jay plugged his phone into a socket in the office and after ten minutes had the needed battery to make a call to Sam Dantello and let him know everything was alright. Sam let him know that he already knew that he and Grace were safe because the story had gone national and Jay let Sam know that he would be returning the loan when he made it back to Georgia but that he may be a day or two late getting back.
“Take another week off kid you deserve it, I’ll bribe Tony to cover your shifts with that money that I didn’t expect to ever see again.”
“Oh, what I meant to say was that I’m sorry but I won’t be able to pay back that loan.” The two of the laughed, it felt good to finally be able to breathe again.
“Don’t worry boy, when you and the baby girl get back we’re going to spend a chunk of it on a nice dinner and maybe those tires that Grace wanted.”
“Thanks Sam, for everything.”
“Anytime kid.” Jay hung up the phone and just sat transfixed on his daughter as she babbled incoherently to her best friend.
“After answering the same questions from different officers for the next four hours, Jay Branch finally ended up in front of Detective Theodore Wade, an older cop that reminded him of the character Ted Levine, played on the TV series Monk. It was all he could do not to refer to him as Captain Stottlemeyer when answering his questions.
“So how exactly did you come to know how to locate your daughter Mister Branch?” The detective didn’t show much of any kind of particular emotion. He was guarded and did not want anything that Jay Branch said to be colored by what he asked or the way he asked it.
“When the kidnapper called the first time, he used Grace’s iPhone and before he could smash it I used the find my phone app to track her on my laptop.”
“So he smashed her phone right then?”
“Yes and the other two times he called me I could hear him smash those phones as well.” Jay could detect a hint of scotch lingering over from the detective’s breath and he wondered if it would be wrong to ask for a shot.
“Would it interest you to know Mister Branch that this man smashed and then tossed a cell phone out of an RV he kept one girl in and then drove it to another state after dropping her back off at his house? The fact that that trick worked was pure luck sir, but I’m glad that luck was on your side this time.” The detective let a bit of his smile show as he remembered the driveway bell that he once was lucky enough to hear that helped a little boy reunite with his mother a thousand years ago.
“Wow, yeah I just had to hope, I guess in luck, that he would be there. I left the second I got off the phone so that I would be ahead of schedule. So that if there was anything at all I could do….I would.” Jay’s mind seemed to wander off into the distance.
“Did you have the full ransom Mister Branch?” Jay looked down at his feet like he could find a better answer to the question he knew was coming next.
“No.”
“So what exactly was your plan?” Wade adjusted himself in his chair and sat back truly curious as to what Jay’s response would be.
“The only plan I had was get to the location I saw on the map and go from there, when I heard on the way out here that this guy had tortured girls I knew there wasn’t a second option anyway. Then I saw Grace peeking out from that door all I could do was my best to get her out of there.”
“Were you going to kill him Jay?” Wade leaned in so that only he and Jay could hear the question; Jay could tell that this was the cop’s way of letting him know that what Sam had said was true. “If you put a bullet in this piece of shit, nobody will think less of you.”
Jay leaned forward and smiled just a little “I was going to rescue my daughter, if I had to defend myself or her with force I was ready to do so.”
“Without a gun?”
“I had knives and a bat.” Jay guarded his smile this time, the cop may have been a bit cool but he didn’t know how he would have felt about illegal firearms. Wade stood up, smiled at Jay and said. “Well sir, with all your help maybe we can catch this asshole soon.” Wade paused, adjusted his belt and followed with “Unless of course this jackass tries to fire on one of us then we might just have to, how’d you put it? Be ready to defend ourselves with force if necessary.
“Well let’s hope he does.” Jay said and for a split second thought the detective might be offended but Wade’s quick smile told him otherwise.

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